At the age of only 18, Jason Foley just claimed gold with Rockwell RC (Kannan). As one of the latest to compete of the jump-off, they set a smashing time of 37.72 seconds, bringing home another gold medal to Ireland, after already a complete Irish podium in the World Championship for 5-year-old horses last year. “This victory feels absolutely amazing. The course really suited the mare! Last year I was looking for a horse for the European Championships and I got in contact with Sean Cubitt, the owner of Rockwell. Thanks to him I could compete with Castlefield Vegas, with whom I got the chance to take home European Junior Gold in Fontainebleau. To claim another World Gold now, that is just the cherry on the top!”
Also silver went to Ireland, thanks to 19-year-old Michael Pender, who was the first to majorly cross the 40 seconds mark in the jump-off with his horse Chacco Bay (Chaccato - Breeder: Alfons Brueggehagen). “This is my second silver medal, I’m very delighted with my horse. I would like to thank Al Shira’aa but also Aoife O'Connor for producing the horse so well. This is actually my first show with him... Maybe, looking back to the jump-off I could have done something differently, although I don’t think Chacco Bay is naturally the fastest horse, so I’m just absolutely delighted with my silver medal here today!”
Emma Stoker recently had to change jobs… Her owner Bob Young, of Townhead Stud, recently retired and sold all his horses to Axel Verlooy, which made Emma a bit uncertain about her future: “I’m in complete shock, to be honest! Me and my former boss bought Skylandria Z (Super Trooper de Ness - Breeder: Yvonne Copal) a year ago and then I thought I was going to lose her and then I got her back and today I win World Champion bronze!” Stoker and Skylandria Z set a time of 38.74 seconds, being the last to go in the jump-off.
Emma already finished in fifth place, with her first horse Orphea HQ (Emerald van ‘t Ruytershof - Breeder: Ilse Kranen) with whom she initiated the jump-off. “To be honest, with Orphea HQ I couldn’t have gone any faster… I didn’t have much more steering to do, I went flat out to the last jump and I actually thought I set a pretty good time, and so did the people around me, until these two looneys went in (laughing).”
Talking about steering problems, Jason Foley was quite lucky to be able to compete in Lanaken himself: “I actually dislocated my shoulder three weeks ago, after a fall. I didn’t actually think that I could be back here, so I hope the hospital doesn’t see this (laughing). But I thought, let’s try it and I was lucky that it went okay.”
Also owner Sean Cubbit was delighted with the gold: “I bought the mare last year from Ryan Crumley, and back in January she came home to me, to have a little rest. After I had put Jason on, I knew they were a great match, so I’ve send the mare straight back to Ireland for him to ride. Their first big show was in Dublin, where they were unlucky second and today it was just perfect!”
Breeder Ronan Byrne also travelled all the way to Belgium for the big final. “I don’t know Ronan so well,” Sean Cubbit starts his story. “I’ve had some pints with him, but he is a man of few words… He rang me on Wednesday and I told him to come to Lanaken this week, because we were going for the medal. He answered: ‘Maybe I’ll come over on Saturday night.’ I’ve send him the first video saying: ‘Ron, we were clear’ and I got a thumbs up back. Second day I said: ‘Ronnie, we’re clear again’. Again a thumbs up. Yesterday evening I asked him how he was and he answered ‘I’m just getting on the train to Stuttgart.’ So I’ve answered that he was going the wrong way… But he was the first person I ran into in the morning, with his backpack packed, sleeping bag included, and here we are!”
Ronan bought the granddam in Switzerland years ago while she was in foal. “I’m trying to improve every horse I breed, but it takes quite a time to figure out what is working in terms of finding the right stallion for your mare. This time it worked! But I’ve got two more out of this mare by Cardento, so hopefully we will be back in a few years!”
A total of 11 combinations qualified for the jump-off. Fourth place went to Willem Greve and Opium JW van de Moerhoeve (Kannan - Breeder: De Moerhoeve BVBA) in 41.77 seconds. Also Thibaut Huyvaert and Anders Lagergreen stayed clear in the jump-off. They finished respectively sixth and seventh with Orphy van de Kruishoeve (Elvis ter Putte - Breeder: Eric Polfliet) and Point Break (Action-Breaker - Breeder: Nya Appelvikens riskola AB).